French Lip-Sync Dubbing in Toronto Is Back!

There’s nothing like a movie project to invigorate the atmosphere around a dubbing house like Power of Babel. Corporate projects are great – they’re our bread and butter. But the glamour work – the toughest and most creative – is lip-sync dubbing of feature films.

We landed one of these projects earlier this year, when AIC Movie, a company that specializes in Canadian-Italian co-productions, came to us with an Italian film, Tre tocchi, to be dubbed into international French.

Could we do it? There hadn’t been a French feature-film dubbing project in Toronto in years. So many years, in fact, that the local rep for the Union des Artistes, the Quebec-based French performers’ union, didn’t quite believe us at first.

The Secret Weapon

But we had a secret weapon: our French supervisor, Simon Delage Scott. Simon is a veteran of the Montreal dubbing industry who moved to Toronto a couple of years ago and still goes back often for voice work. As a UDA-member actor, he knew that Toronto had a great community of excellent French performers. And he was eager to show that we could compete with the powerful dubbing companies in Quebec.

So we got to work. On Simon’s advice, we decided to use the excellent dubbing software VoiceQ, made by New Zealand’s Kiwa Digital. VoiceQ is a digital solution based on the almost 100-year-old rythmo band dubbing method, which is standard in the French-speaking world (including Quebec). The performer sees his or her lines scroll across the bottom of the screen, perfectly synced to the original dialogue, and speaks the lines when the text hits a trigger line.

80 Speaking Parts

From the linguistic side, the adaptation was relatively straightforward – there is a lot of similarity between Italian and French. But on the casting front, it was a challenge: the film was extremely dialogue-heavy, and had more than 80 speaking parts. But after three full days of auditions, we’d found our cast – 23 performers from UDA’s Toronto local, and one guy who drove in from Montreal.

Scenes from the dubbed French version of Tre tocchi

With so many actors, it took 40 hours to record the dialogue, with DB Audio engineer Neil McDonald expertly layering crowd scenes and keeping track of every line. And if we don’t say so ourselves, the result sounds very good. Our Toronto-based francophone cast proved that we can compete with any French dubbing studio in North America. And with the Union des Artistes reducing its dubbing rates by 15-20% in its latest contract, dubbing in Toronto is surprisingly affordable.

We can’t wait to get started on our next French feature-film dubbing project. Drop us a line to discuss!


Eric Geringas
Versioning producer. Documentary filmmaker. Factual TV director. Problem solver.